Pradeep Pattanayak

In what seems to be unusual for winter season, prices of vegetables are shooting through the kitchen roof, forcing middle class families to skimp on vegetable consumption in Odisha.

During this time of the year, when markets are generally glutted with vegetables and their prices well within the reach of all and sundry, this season, the situation is no longer the same. 

In the State Capital city Bhubaneswar, Unit-I is the biggest vegetable market. These days, people visiting this market have to do back-of-the envelope calculation so that they can buy items within the reach. 

OTV team assessed the price situation in the market and was surprised to find that almost all the major vegetables from gourd to brinjal, green peas and capsicum to tomatoes were selling between Rs 50 and 100 per kilo on Sunday. The price of cauliflower was something between Rs 40 and Rs 50 a piece. Similarly, cabbage, bitter gourd and cucumber were selling something between Rs 40 and Rs 50 a kilogram. 

Not only Bhubaneswar, the same situation also prevails in other parts of the State. The vegetables that normally experience a distress sale in the winter are now selling at prices beyond expectation. 

“Almost all the vegetables are selling at exorbitant prices. Common people like us are feeling the pinch. We find it very difficult to buy vegetables for our families,” observed Bijay Mohanty, a Cuttack resident. 
Echoing the same feeling, a Bhubaneswar resident Fakir Jena said the skyrocketing prices of vegetables forced them to hold back on quantity of purchase. 

A green grocer in Unit-I vegetable market said the state of affairs this year is quite different compared to that of last year. This time last year, we would sell two cauliflowers at Rs 20. But now, they are selling between Rs 40 and Rs 50, according to their size. 
According to Cuttack Chhatra Bazaar Vegetable Traders’ Association, a decrease in production and an increase in demand have led to the present situation. Against the usual five truck-loads of vegetables, only two truck-load vegetables are reaching the market. 

“The incessant rain under the impact of back-to-back low pressures recently caused extensive damage to vegetable crops, resulting in poor production. The new crops will be harvested by January 15. Once they start arriving in the markets, prices will come down. As of now, all sorts of vegetables are coming from other states like Bihar, Bangalore, West Bengal and Maharashtra,” said secretary of Cuttack Chhatra Bazaar Vegetable Traders’ Association, Debendranath Sahu.